Cherry Pretzel Energy Bars

Cherry Pretzel Bars title

Dan and I competed in the Finger Lakes International Dragon Boat Festival with his company team again this weekend.  We paddled as hard as we could, yelling to keep in sync at times, exerting ourselves far too thoroughly to make any noise at all at others.  Sadly, our 500 meter races times of 2:56, 2:56 and 2:53 weren’t enough to sail us into first place again, but the competition was stiff and we did get 5th out of 8 teams.

Between races, we squeezed under the pop-up tent for some shade, lifting our faces to the occasional breeze.  We chatted and lounged and stretched.  We rehydrated, sipping water, Gatorade and beer.  And we ate — fresh blueberries and cherries, sandwiches from home or Thai food from the stands down the shore, and these energy bars.  Adapted from Jess Thomson’s Nut and Seed Energy Bars, they were a huge hit among my fellow paddlers.

Cherry Pretzel Bars 2

Cherry Pretzel Energy Bars

Prep Time: 2 hours

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Yield: 24 bars

Cherry Pretzel Energy Bars

Adapted from Jess Thomson's Nut and Seed Energy Bars. One of Dan's coworkers told me they taste "just like peanut butter and jelly sandwiches...but better and healthier!" Made almost entirely of whole foods, these bars are the perfect snack for between races or mid-bike ride.


  • 1 cup raw pepitas
  • 1 cup raw sunflower seeds
  • 2 cup raw almonds
  • 1 cup raw peanuts
  • 10 dates, pitted
  • 2 teaspoons arrowroot powder
  • 1/4 cup peanut butter
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 cup brown rice syrup
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 2 cups pretzels
  • 3/4 cup dried cherries
  • 3/4 cup dried currants


  1. Preheat the oven to 400F.
  2. Spread the nuts and seeds out onto a rimmed baking sheet and toast at 400F for 5-7 minutes. If you open the oven and see them beginning to brown and smell their fragrant nuttiness, they are done. Set aside to cool.
  3. Puree the dates in a food processor or blender. They will clump up into one big sticky ball, so stop the processor and break the ball up with a fork. Begin pureeing again so that it smooths out into more of a paste.
  4. Whisk the arrowroot powder, peanut butter, salt and dates in a small bowl.
  5. Bring the brown rice syrup and maple syrup to a boil in a small pot over medium-high heat. Whisk the syrups into the date mixture.
  6. Pour the pretzels into a large mixing bowl and begin crushing them with the bottom of your measuring cup. The largest pieces should be no bigger than the size of a penny. Toss in the toasted nuts and seeds, the cherries and the currants.
  7. Pour the sticky syrup mixture into the bowl with the dry ingredients and gently stir with a wooden spoon until everything is coated. Make sure there are no dry spots left at the bottom of the bowl.
  8. Line a 9x13" baking pan with parchment paper so that it comes up the sides. Scrape the bar ingredients into the pan and even out the layer with your wooden spoon.
  9. Spread another layer of parchment paper over the bars and use the bottom of a measuring cup to press and smooth out the layer underneath.
  10. Weigh down the bars with a heavy pan or book to keep everything pressed together as it cools.
  11. After about an hour, turn the bars out onto the counter and peel off the top layer of parchment paper.
  12. Using a very sharp knife, cut the block into 24 bars. If you have one, a large chef's knife is best, as it makes it easier to make one even cut, without sawing through the bars and making things crumble.
  13. Wrap each bar in parchment paper and store in an airtight container.

Six Ways with Pantry Staples

Fish Tacos

I don’t spend a lot of time cooking in the summer.  I can and preserve and blanch and freeze, but very little cooking happens.  Most of the time, it is just too darn hot to cook inside, and I’m too busy doing summery things: gardening, cycling, hiking, keeping score at Dan’s baseball games and going to U-Pick farms.

Nowadays, most of our meals are composed purely of pantry staples, whatever produce is in season and a cut or two of meat a week.  These are 6 of our favorites.

Six Ways with Pantry Staples

1.  Scrambled eggs with diced tomatoes and grated Parmesan.  Serve with some fresh bread and a side salad.

2.  Tacos made with flour tortillas, sautéed vegetables, meat or fish and a simple salsa.

3.  Sautéed vegetables tossed with herb-simmer quinoa or pasta and topped with a fresh pesto or grated cheese and olive oil.

4.  Whole wheat pancakes made with the fruit of the week.


5.  Grilled cheese and sungold sandwiches, with grilled veggies on the side.

6.  Burrito bowls with beans or chicken, diced vegetables, rice and guacamole, with a little cheese crumbled on top.

Burrito Bowl 1

Last night, I diced some zucchini, the first from the garden, and cooked them with the rice and some cumin, chili powder and lime juice.  We mixed it all with some shredded chicken, mashed avocado, queso fresco and salsa.  It was the perfect quick dinner for a steamy and busy weeknight.

My pantry staples, part 1 and part 2.